Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fred's Answers

In August I sent a letter to each of the Compassion kids suggesting that they tell me 5 things about themselves. I sent 5 things about myself (like being left handed, loving to read, and stuff like that). Today I got Fred's answer from his mother, Lyra.

Dear Mrs. Sykes

Have a blessed day!!!

Greetings from Fred and his fasmily. How's your business going on? We always pray for you and your family, especially to your mother's health and her condition. We hope that she felt better now and she can do what she did before.

Fred have eight cousins but only three of them he played with. The rest live in from afar of.

Thanks for sharing the photos of matryushka dolls, Mrs. Sykes. It's really cute and I hope someday I have it.

Here are the little things about Fred:

1. Fred is a friendly kind and naughty person with his friend and he like to play with his friend outside.

2. Fred like a small spider. If his never have friends to play with his finding a spider to play.

3. Fred is good in dance, Mrs. Sykes, and I wanted him to join to the school dance activities so he can enhance his talent in dancing.

4. Fred know how to take care of his sisters. If his friends don't want to play with him his three sisters he played with.

5. Fred really scared in horror movies.

That the things you way know about. Fred thanks a lot, Mrs. Sykes. Please pray for Fred's studies. Once again thank you very much.

Lyra (Fred's mother)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Photo of Shallon

Today, I received a new photo of Shallon. Doesn't she have a beautiful smile?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Letter from Anjali

Anjali never writes her own letters. Whoever writes them always writes them as if transcribing an interview.

Dear Beverly Sykes

She sends greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. She asks you how are you. She tells that she is fine and she hopes the same with you. She says that she prays every day for you and she says that she studies well.

She says that now at present the weather is very cool, because she is in winter season. She says that she likes winter season very much. She says she likes custard apple. She says that she have many fruits like custard apple, jujubi, guava, etc.

She says that she participated in Talents Day. She says project conducted Talents Day. She says she sung a song in Talents Day competition.

She says her family members are praying for you and your family members. She once again thanks you for your love and kind letters.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Letter from Shallon

Shallon writes wonderful, long letters. I loved this one:

My beloved friend Beverly Sykes,

I first thank God who has given me this chance to talk with you through this letter. How are you and how is your life over there? And how are your daily activities over there? I am veyr proud of you and your family members. I want to tell you that God is real. Without God nothing is possible.

You have asked me questions. I'm going to reply. Firset one is do you have any problems reading my letters? I don't have problem in reading your letters.

Second one is do you have any cousins? I don't have any cousin and you have asked me do you see your relatives often. Of course I see them often. I try to preach the word of God with them. My family members are greeting in the name of Jesus Christ.

Yes, I remember these folding papers which you sent to me. You have said that you enjoy pictures from Russia--What is location of Russia and between to your home.

I want to send my prayers to all your family members and I want to tell you to pray for me in order to pass primary leaving examination. I want to send you some of my results for tests in our school. Social studies - 50 and Science - 70. I want to tell you that I am sure in God I will pass primary leaving examination.

In my vacation period I will relax and I want to communicate with you and your family members. I wish to send you my verse you will enjoy and think about in that verse. I want to send prayers and to thank you becasue you have brought me photos. I want to send prayers to your mother, who had fell down some stairs and broke her ankle. She will be better.

I want to send you a verse which I have told you. It is in Daniel Chapter 9 verse 9. It says you are merciful and forgiving although we have rebelled against you...God will reward.

I want to tell you a story about our country. In our country some areas has got much snow which destroy our crops, so we request for your prayers.

I want to tell you that may God bless you and your family members.

Your loving daughter,


I decided to try to explain Thanksgiving to our kids, so designed this page

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Christmas in November

There is a "Christmas Card Drive of epic proportions" going on thru Compassion, for kids who don't have sponsors and would otherwise get nothing for Christmas. I bought two boxes of Christmas cards, for 50 cents each at the Dollar Store and addressed something like 30 cards to kids who don't have sponsors. I also had purchased some religious bookmarks and included a bookmark in each card.

I hope they get to Compassion in time to get to the kids on Christmas.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Letter from Fred

I always love it when I get letters from Fred (or his mother), because the smiling little boy on the stationery always makes me smile. This is what his mother has to say in this letter, written September 17 (in reply to my letter of July 14)

Dear Mrs. Sykes (I do hope she eventually calls me something else!)

Have a blessed day!!!

Thank you for sharing a lot of good story about your trip in Russia and also for the pictures you send here. He been so nice to know the history of this church and to see your friend here in the pictures, Charlotte and Mike.

In our country the well knowned church here is Catholic, but I believe the Baptist church is the best because I know they really founded and analyzed well what inside in the Bible.

Do you have any other sponsored beside Fred?

Mrs. Sykes, thank you for consulting us here. Fred and all of us were okey in the goodness of God. . Fred was nice in his study, before and after his sleep he always prayed. . And we prayed also that you and your family and friends were living in good condition and always happy.

Fred's mother

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Indonesian Volcano

98 people are listed as dead and thousands of families fleeing their homes in the area of Mt. Merapi. On the map I see, Esther lives in that area but I have not seen any news from Compassion about it yet. I'm worried for her safety and the safety of her family.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The World Series

One of my kids -- Fred -- likes baseball, so I wrote to him about the World Series and my excitement, since "my" Giants are playing. I included a couple of newspaper pages which had color photos and there was one photo, life size, of a baseball, which I pasted on the back of sticky paper to give it some strength. I hope he likes it all.

I also got a couple of birthday cards that you can record yourself. Pedro in Brasil has a January birthday, so I recorded myself singing "Happy Birthday" in Portuguese (which we used to do frequently, so I'm good at it!). I still have to decide what I'm going to record for Briana in Haiti.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Letter from Esther

Dear Beverly Sykes,

Hello. Esther hopes that this letter finds Beverly happy and healhty. I was glad to receive your letter and picture and read about life there. I don't forget to thank you for the folding paper you gave me. Esther will use it the best I can.

It is a dry season in Indonesia. However we still get rain and wind. I am sad some areas are affected by flood. It is a pity that their activities are disturbed.

How is your mother-in-law?

That's all from Esther.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I also make micro loans through Kiva, which was recommended by Al Gore on some talk show I saw awhile ago.

I love the idea of micro loans because Kiva pools your money with money from other people and you get the feeling you can actually help someone without spending more than $25.

The nice thing about Kiva is that once your loan is repaid, you can reloan the money, so your actual expenditure is not as large as it might be. I've made 27 loans, helping 27 different people for really only about a $50 outright expenditure over the past 3 years. (There is also the option to have the money returned to you once it is repaid)

I usually choose women for my loans. My favorite loan was to a woman who wanted to build her gin-selling business (any gin lover is OK by me!). My latest loan is to Digna Isabel Preciado Ferrer, who is in paper sales. I figure that's like a stationery store, and lord knows I do love me a good stationery store!

(Besides, I just loved her big smile!)

Other countries I've loaned to are:

Azerbajan x2
Dominican Republic
Nigeria x3
Pakistan x2
Philippines x4

Friday, October 22, 2010

Letter from Shallon

Dear Beverly Sykes,

How are you and how is your life? Back to me, I am okey at school. I first thank God who has given me this chance to talk with you.

I thank you for your sweet and friendly letters which you sent me for every time. I receive letter from you. I was very happy when I saw your first letter and I was very proud of you.

I like singing the songs of Jesus, our Lord. I want to communicate with you face to face. I have seen the guys and photos of your husband, your daughter, and you. I am very happy to see your family. I have seen the California's map.

In our home we have dogs, one is called Dactan, another is called Bingo and another is called Jachan. I am very proud to hear and see in the letter that you have dogs in your home and I am very sure that you know the use of dogs in the home.

I want to know your religion. Do you have a religion in California? I am a Christian member of our church of Uganda called Kigarama church. Do you attend church servicees? I like to go to church on Sunday.

I like reading books and reading Bible.

Greetings to your children like Tom, Ned and Jeri from your friend Shallon. I love you so much because you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

In Uganda we have our motto which says "for God and my country." Do you have motto for your country. In our country, Uganda, we celebrated Day of African Child on 16th June every year.

When I finish my studies I will be a nurse because a nurse is useful person and others like teachers and lawyers. In primary seven we study four subjects. These are English, science, social studies and mathematics. I like English and science but when I am reading I use English.

I want to send you a verse in the Bible. 1 Peter 2:9. It says but you're a chosen generation of a royal priesthood and I want to pray for your mother-in-law who has broken her hip.

Stay in Jesus Christ. Always remember that Jesus will reward and remains your daughter Katsusiime Shallon, If God wishes I shall meet you face to face. May God bless you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Football for Pedro

Pedro loves soccer and says he doesn't know anything about American football, so I sent him this graphic I found on the internet. I also found very simple, basic rules for football and sent it to a Brasilian friend of ours, who translated it for me, leaving the English underneath each Portuguese paragraph in case Pedro wanted to try to see how to translate it himself. I also included a package of football player cards. I haven't heard yet if he received this and if he liked it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I am not creative!

Some sponsors create wonderful artistic things to send to their kids. I recently made this collage for Fred, supposedly to tell him something about things I like. I probably won't be doing many more of them!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Letter from Pedro

Dear Sponsor Beverly Sykes,

Hello. How are you? I hope that you're doing well. I'm doing well with my family, thanks God. Thank you for the pictures. I was happy to get your letter.

Is it fun where you live? How is your weather there? Here it's winter and it has been very cold.

Do you know what I got with the gift you sent me? (for his birthday) I got tennis shoes and I was happy because my other tennis shoes were old.

Here in school, we are getting ready for nations' party and our classroom will talk about Japapn.

I finish this letter wishing you many blessings from God. I send you a warm kiss.

Your sponsored child, who loves you a lot.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Letter from Anjali

Dear Beverly Sykes,

Anjali says that she is fine. She sends greetings in the matchless name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. She says that she is studying well. She says that she is praying for you every day and asks that you also pray for her.

She is received your letter. She is expressing very happy for your letter. She says that the little dogs are looking very nice and beautiful. She says Itsy is looking very beautiful for her. Bitsy also looking cute.

She says she is playing with Priyanka, Chamanthi and Jyothsna (her best friends).

She says that the stars are very beautiful in American flag.

She says that she have to write quarterly examination on 28th of September and she says that she will be celebrating the Gandhiji's Jayanthi on October 2nd (that's Gandhi's birthday). She says he is the godfather of her nation.

She asks you pray for her quarterly examinations. She is expressing thanks for your sponsorship.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Christmas in October

You have to think and plan far in advance, since it takes about two months for a birthday or Christmas gift to get to the children. I wasn't on time last year, but this year I'm on top of things. I sent a $20 gift to each of the three sponsored children and a larger family gift to Fred's family. The individual monetary gifts are all pooled and gifts given to all the children in a center, whether they receive something from their sponsors or not. Family gifts are given directly to the family.

I found little gifts to send to each child with a Christmas card. There were sticker books of a Nativity scene or angel pictures printed on tissue paper that the children can color and hang in a window like stained glass. Gifts can be only made of paper and can't be thicker than 1/4" so it does stretch your creativity to find something appropriate!

I also sent Shallon a small calendar of photos from California. I heard a rumor that we can't send calendars. I can't figure out why. But I thought I'd give it a try anyway.

Next month I will send birthday cards to the three children who have January and February birthdays. I found cards on which you can record a message and I thought that would be fun.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Letter from Fred

Dear Mrs. Sykes (I have asked them to call me something less formal; we'll see what they come up with)

Have a good day!!! Hope that everything is doing good and fine. By the way, is your grandchildren attending DVBS too? (I don't know what this is, but suspect the "BS" is Bible School). Because last May 17-21 Fred attending DVBS at Bible Baptist Church. He enjoys singing new song and listening Bible Stories. He learn a lot in 1 week activities. He met a lot of friends inside the church.

He was happy when he buy his school uniform and school supplies. He was enjoy going to the center every Saturday and Sunday. Fred now is in Grade I. He was enjoying going to school every day. He woke up early in the morning just to prepare himself because he doesn't want to be late in school.

Please continue to pray for Fred's schooling and his health.

God bless you!!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Clarisse is not a Compassion Kid, she is a member of Women for Women International.

I don't have a lot of information about Clarisse yet. The package says that I will receive more information when she attends her first class. But I do know that she is married and raising five children. I do not know if these are all her children, since the information I received says that "many women adopt as many as 6 orphaned children, treating every child like her own."

Apparently this is a sponsorship which lasts one year. Clarisse will join a group of 25 women who will become her support network as they "go through an intensive and life-changing training."

The letter goes on to state that "Clarisse will learn about women's rights, allowing her to take greater control over the decisions that govern her life and that of her children; she will learn technical and business skills that will allow her to sustain an income; she will receive direct cash assistance and emotional support, and on graduating (in September of 2011) she will be given access to jobs or tools to start a business."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Esther - Birthdate: 8/6/95

Esther was the next correspondence child I was assigned. She lives with her father and mother and a younger brother in Salatiga, Indonesia. Her father is employed as a laborer and her mother is "sometimes employed."

The profile of Esther says she plays a musical instrument, but does not say which one.

In her area, typical houses are constructed of cement with tile roofs. The primary ethnic group is Java and the most commonly spoken language is Javanese and the typical diet is rice.

Esther, through a translator, says "I am going to a new school. I have new friends, new classes and new teachers. I hope I will be a smart person and make my parents proud."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Shallon - Birthdate: 2/17/95

I was enjoying corresponding with Fred so much that I asked for two more correspondence kids, only asked for older children, since I know that everybody wants babies and little kids. I thought it would be nice to write to an older child.

Shallon, who shares a birthday with me, is from Uganda and lives with her mother and 3 siblings and 2 dogs. Her mother is sometimes employed as a laborer. Shallon loves singing, story telling, and playing net ball.

She lives in the hills of Kigarama and typical houses have dirt floors, adobe walls and corrugated iron roofs. The primary ethnic groups are Banyankore and Bakiga and most commonly spoken languages are Runyankore and Rukiga, though Shallon writes to me in quite good English.

This is an HIV infected area. The regional diet consists of beans, bananas, cassava, rice and Irish potatoes.

She wants to be a nurse when she grows up and is currently studying English. science, social studies and mathematics.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fred - Birthdate: 8/4/03

Fred's my guy.

He's one of the correspondence kids, which means someone else actually pays his sponsorship, but I get to write to him. I am sorry for his real sponsor because Fred's mother, Leyla, speaks and writes English very well and writes frequently, usually at least 2 times a month.

You don't get to pick your correspondence kids, though I might have picked him anyway because his first photo was so cute.

Fred lives with both parents and three sisters. He enjoys baseball, playing with cars and playing group games.

He lives on the plains of Sitio Carolling, Brgy, La Carlota City. Typical houses are constructed of bamboo and have tin roofs. The regional diet consists of fish and rice. Most adults are unemployed, but Fred's father is a tricycle driver.

Fred's mother is very religious and is always asking me how I came to know Jesus, which is a difficult question to answer since my religion is not as foremost in my mind as it is in hers.

Leyla's letters always come with a drawing from Fred, usually of a house.

I can't financially sponsor any more children because I can probably afford one more and I'm keeping my options open for the possibility of Fred's current sponsor ending his sponsorship. I'll then have first dibs on taking him.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Briana - Birthdate: 1/20/02

At some point, Compassion put out a plea for people to sponsor children in Haiti, where the need was so great (this was before the hurricane). I really didn't know if I could take on the cost of another child, but when I thought about what it would mean to the child and what it would mean giving up for me, how could I say no?

Again, I looked through the pictures and when I saw that there was a girl named Briana (with one n instead of Brianna our granddaughter), I had to adopt her.

It takes several weeks to hear from your sponsored child, but Hurricane Gustav arrived before that and I was frantic to find out where she was and if she had been affected. I was relieved to discover that she was in Petite-Anse (Cap-Haiten), in the northern part of the country, about as far away from the affected areas as you could get and still be in Haiti.

Briana is one of 3 children, living with both her parents. The typical house in this area has a cement floor, brick walls, and tin roofs. The regional diet consists of maize, beans, chicken, fish, cassava, rice, goat and vegetables. Most adults are unemployed but some work as market traders and earn the equivalent of $67 per month.

The translator of her father's letter (only 8 years old, Briana does not write letters herself), says that "she is cute and elegant." They also say that she likes to sing.

I have only heard from her 3 times, so don't really have a feel for her yet.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pedro - Birthdate: 1/12/01

Not long after I'd started sponsoring Anjali, I started kicking myself because with all of our connections to Brasil, I knew I should have sponsored a boy from Brasil. I did a bit of figuring of what I could afford and decided I would, in fact, sponsor a boy from Brasil.

Again, I flipped through the pictures and Pedro immediately caught my eye. He just had "that look" of all the Brasilian young men I'd known.

He lives with his mother and 3 siblings and he likes soccer, playing with cars, and art. He lives on the plains of Jose Pinheiro, in the north east of Brasil. His information says that typical houses are constructed of cement floors, brick walls and tile roofs. And, of course, he speaks Portuguese.

The regional diet consists of beans, chicken, bread, potatoes and rice. Common health problems in this area include yellow fever, parasites, malnutrition, and intestinal worms. Half the adults in this area are unemployed.

Pedro's letters are pretty brief and kind of cryptic, but usually incude a drawing of a car.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Anjali - Birthdate: 9/22/02

Anjali was my first sponsored child. I had read the Compassion materials and knew I wanted to sponsor a child again. I decided to look at the "criticial need" kids, those who had been waiting for a sponsor more more than 6 months. There were so many!

I flipped quickly through the pages of photos to see if anybody caught my eye. Anjali did for an unlikely reason. She had the fattest face of any of them. I identified with being "the fat kid" and wondered if that was why nobody had picked her up yet, so I decided she was going to be mine (though her subsequent photo showed none of that baby fat that had drawn me to her photo in the first place).

Anjali lives with her father and mother and 2 siblings. She likes to play house and group games and to play with dolls. She lives on the plans of Nandyal. Typical houses are constsructed of dirt floors, adobe walls and grass roofs. The primary ethnic groups are Shudra, apu, Kamma, Baliga, Mala and Madiga. The most commonly spoken language is Telugu, though Anjali is learning English and though her letters to me are translated, she always includes a few words in English that she has written herself.

She often writes about food and her liking of fruits, particularly mango, apples, oranges and bananas.

She also frequently includes drawings of flowers.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I decided to start a blog just about the Compassion kids, and about my "sister" in Rwanda. I will use this blog for introducing each of the children, for updates from their letters and photos, sometimes my letters to them. It is my hope to inspire some readers to sponsor a child or a woman too.

The children are sponsored through Compassion, International. From their web site:

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

Founded by the Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, Compassion began providing Korean War orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training.

Today, Compassion helps more than 1 million children in 26 countries.

The religion part of all this is slightly problematic because, though I believe in God, I am not in the least "religious." However, you don't find NON-religious groups working like this on behalf of children, at least not so visibly, and I feel the children are more important than who is taking care of them.

Over the years, I have sponsored many children through other organizations (Foster Parents Plan and Christian Children's Fund), but I liked Compassion because there is so much more encouraged contact with the children. They write frequently, sponsors are encouraged to write frequently (you can even e-mail your child). Photos seem to be sent twice a year and there are often group trips which sponsors can take to visit their child. I believe them to be doing good work and it's worth it, inserting a bit of God into my letters now and then, to help a child.

I am officially sponsoring three children, but there are sponsored children whose sponsors never write to them, so it's possible to become a "correspondence sponsor," which means you are the sponsor of record for the child, the money comes from someone else, but the letters are sent to you. I do feel a bit guilty when the sponsor sends a special monetary gift and I get the thank you letter, but I guess that's the way the system is set up.

In my next entries, I will introduce each of the children, in the order I took them on as a sponsor.